Articles | Volume 24, issue 6
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 24, 3057–3075, 2020
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-24-3057-2020
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 24, 3057–3075, 2020
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-24-3057-2020

Research article 10 Jun 2020

Research article | 10 Jun 2020

Disentangling temporal and population variability in plant root water uptake from stable isotopic analysis: when rooting depth matters in labeling studies

Valentin Couvreur et al.

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Cited articles

Alletto, L., Coquet, Y., Vachier, P., and Labat, C.: Hydraulic conductivity, immobile water content, and exchange coefficient in three soil profiles, Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J., 70, 1272–1280, https://doi.org/10.2136/sssaj2005.0291, 2006. 
Benettin, P., Volkmann, T. H. M., von Freyberg, J., Frentress, J., Penna, D., Dawson, T. E., and Kirchner, J. W.: Effects of climatic seasonality on the isotopic composition of evaporating soil waters, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 2881–2890, https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-22-2881-2018, 2018. 
Beyer, M. and Dubbert, M.: X Water Worlds and how to investigate them: A review and future perspective on in situ measurements of water stable isotopes in soils and plants, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-600, in review, 2019. 
Beyer, M., Koeniger, P., Gaj, M., Hamutoko, J. T., Wanke, H., and Himmelsbach, T.: A deuterium-based labeling technique for the investigation of rooting depths, water uptake dynamics and unsaturated zone water transport in semiarid environments, J. Hydrol., 533, 627–643, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2015.12.037, 2016. 
Beyer, M., Hamutoko, J. T., Wanke, H., Gaj, M., and Koeniger, P.: Examination of deep root water uptake using anomalies of soil water stable isotopes, depth-controlled isotopic labeling and mixing models, J. Hydrol., 566, 122–136, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2018.08.060, 2018. 
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Short summary
Isotopic labeling of soil water is a broadly used tool for tracing the origin of water extracted by plants and computing root water uptake (RWU) profiles with multisource mixing models. In this study, we show how a method such as this may misconstrue time series of xylem water isotopic composition as the temporal dynamics of RWU by simulating data collected during a tall fescue rhizotron experiment with an isotope-enabled physical soil–root model accounting for variability in root traits.